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I have a confession to make…

I’ve become the embodiment of a massive book nerd.

I went from never reading a single book to reading 50+ books every single year. And it’s not just me.

Some of the world’s top CEOs and executives read 4-5 books per month.

So today, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share some of my all-time favorite books with you.

To make the list easy to read I’ve divided all the books into 3 categories, so you can easily find the books you want to read:

I’ve also included a short description of each book, as well as an Amazon link to buy it. Note: There are no affiliate links in this post, so I don’t earn any commission from of recommending the books to you — other than you’ll have more success in business and life.

Personal development

1. The Obstacle is the Way – The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday

This book draws on the ancient Greek philosophy, “Stoicism.” Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, said this almost 2,000 years ago: “What stands in the way becomes the way.” The book shows you how some of the world’s most successful people encountered difficult and almost impossible situations. And why their success was less about their intelligence, their talent or luck, but more about how they chose to handle stressful situations.

Buy it here

2. The Power Of Now – A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment Of Eckhart Tolle

This is probably THE BOOK to read if you want to discover how to live more in the present and be present in everything you do. With that said, you need to be very open to the slightly more spiritual element in it — spiritual, not religious. It can be a bit “heavy” in some places, but once you pull out the essence of it, it’s a really interesting and thoughtful read.

Buy it here

3. The Way of the Seal – Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed by Mark Divine

The book was written by former Navy SEAL, Mark Divine. He dives into how you build true mental toughness. The book has different exercises to help you turn the techniques into a regular part of your everyday life. Don’t let the title scare you away. The book is packed with practical techniques and philosophies that’ll make you more focused and more mentally strong.

Buy it here

4. Unbeatable Mind – Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level by Mark Divine

Yes, one more book from Mark Divine. The difference between “Unbeatable Mind” and “Way of the SEAL” is that UM focuses more on the mental toughness aspect. Look at the description: “The book teaches you to cast out your fear, overcome negativity and connect with a deeper and increased sensitivity to what is happening around you. You want to wipe out the emotional blockades and become the leader you know you were created to be. “

Buy it here

5. The 5 Second Rule – The Surprisingly Simple Way to Live, Love, and Speak With Courage by Mel Robbins

The book gives you an interesting technique that helps you break the different patterns which keep you from doing the things you want. The book has a ton of great stories, examples and a solid tool you can use.

Mel Robbins also has a great TEDx Talk. It’s been seen over 12 million times! It’s amazing.

Buy it here

6. Extreme Ownership – How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

This book… This book is nothing short of amazing! Since I bought it last year, I’ve been through it 5+ times. Whether you’re the CEO, a manager, even if you’re a parent you can use the principles from this book. This is by far my favorite book out of the hundreds of books I’ve read. The audiobook read by the authors is probably one of the best ones, too.

Buy it here

7. Awaken the Giant Within – How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny by Anthony Robbins

If you haven’t heard about Tony Robbins you’re in for a treat. Tony is known as “the father of the coaching industry.” He has personally helped people like Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Nelson Mandela! If there were no Tony Robbins, I wouldn’t be here either. Tony is definitely one of my most important mentors.

Buy it here

8. 59 Seconds – Think a little, change a lot by Richard Wiseman

Here’s something you might not know: A lot of the self-help industry “guru” uses different examples of studies to make their point. But, no matter how interesting they are, most of them never existed. This book takes a critical view of the self-help industry and instead gives you some ultra-specific ways to get more motivated, enjoy your life and much more.

Buy it here

Psychology

9. The Psychology of Winning: Ten Qualities of a Total Winner by Denis Waitley

Denis Waitley studied the different qualities (mindset, thoughts, focus, etc.) world’s top athletes and business people have compared to others who struggle through life. It gives you a clear picture of what you can do to overcome the difficult times that life will inevitably throw at us.

Buy it here

10. The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

If you’ve ever struggled with a bad habit and don’t know how to get rid of it… read this book. This is the by far the best book about how to take control of your habits. You discover why we have them, how they’re created, and more importantly: How you change them.

Buy it here

11. The Checklist Manifesto – How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Here’s a universal truth: A checklist can save your life (just ask any pilot). Atul Gawande, surgeon and New York Times bestselling author, gives you an insight into how to use checklists to streamline all aspects of your life and business.

Buy it here

12. Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

This book is a mastodont of a book. “Influence” is the book that thousands of other books refer to when it comes to understanding human psychology. There are decades worth of research boiled down to a few critical principles that will help you understand the science of influence and how you can influence others and yourself.

Buy it here

13. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

I LOVE this book! If you’ve ever struggled with negotiation, or if you just want to take your negotiation skills to the next level, you should read this book. Chris Voss was the international hostage negotiator for the FBI. He’s taken his vast experience and boiled it down to step-by-step principles you can use today in ANY negotiation.

Buy it here

Leadership

14. Creating Magic: 1 0 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell

Lee Cockerell shares the leadership principles he discovered during his time with Walt Disney World Resort – a multibillion-dollar company. This sentence pretty much sums up this amazing book: “It’s not the magic that makes it work; it’s the way we work that makes it magic.”

Buy it here

15. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by D. Michael Abrashoff

Leadership and management are difficult in any business. But management in a rigid, top-down hierarchy like the US Navy is something else. Yet, Abrashoff still managed to take the USS Benfold, the worst-performing ship in the navy, and transform it into the “best damn ship in the navy.” The book is an excellent practical guide that will turn you into an even better leader.

Buy it here

16. The TRUST Method: 10 Leadership Strategies That Build Genuine Trust and Influence Anyone to Take Action

Ahh yes, by far my most FAVORITE book on this list. (Hey, it’s my list, there should be some benefits, right?).  In the book, you’ll discover EVERYTHING you need to know about how to build genuine trust and influence anyone to take action. You’ll get 10 modules in a hyper-specific, step-by-step program which holds nothing back on the most effective leadership principles.

Buy it here

Miscellaneous

17. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The primary reason I read “Ender’s Game” was because that it’s one of Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite books. Fortunately, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the exciting story of Ender and his development in the military as a child. If you like science fiction books, this is a great read.

Buy it here

18. The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho

The title says it all: The Alchemist is a story of having the courage to pursue your dreams. The book centers on the boy, Santiago, a shepherd who dreams of traveling the world and its treasures. The book has sold over 65 million copies and holds a Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author.

Buy it here

19. Way of the Peaceful Warrior – A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman

Honestly, I usually read this book twice a year. The book is based on Dan Millman’s real experiences with his mentor “Socrates.” It has great life lessons, stories and philosophies that you can directly implement into your own life.

Buy it here

20. The One Thing – The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller

Most of us probably know the feeling of being overwhelmed by all the different things we want to achieve — losing weight, growing our business, getting a new car. “The One Thing” takes the complete opposite approach. You learn how to cut through the noise, achieve better results in less time with less stress… just by focusing on one thing: The most important thing.

Buy it here

21. Tools of Titans – The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

In this book, Tim Ferriss took over 200 podcast episodes — with people like Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger — and boiled them down to the biggest insights and into some simple tools you can use to become the best version of yourself.

Buy it here

22. The 4-Hour Workweek – Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich of Timothy Ferriss

The last book on the list and another book by Tim Ferriss and a modern classic. This book is for you if you want to live life on your terms (i.e. more time between your hands) and this book shows you exactly how to do it.

Buy it here

What books do you recommend?

Honestly, all these books can change your life. So here is my personal recommendation to you:

Don’t debate with yourself whether to buy a book or not. Buy the book no matter what. If you only get one new idea or new insight from the book, it could potentially change your life and business. At that point, it’s already worth a lot more than the few dollars you invested in it.

Now I would like to hear from you.

Have you read some of the books from the list? What was your biggest insights from reading it and why? What books would you like to add to the list and recommend?

I look forward to reading your response.

If you’ve ever had to hire somebody or manage a team, you know it can be one of the biggest causes of misery in your ENTIRE business existence.

You have all the best intentions, you try new things, implement new ideas, but it can still feel like an uphill battle to keep people motivated.

The problem with the typical incentives

It gets even harder once your team seems negative in one way or another. It can feel like hitting your head against a brick wall. And what do we usually do?

We try things like new incentives like cash prices, an all-expenses-paid vacation, or something as simple as a day off. But, those things are more of a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach. For sure, they definitely produce results, but, in general only short-term.

If you don’t fix the real issue, no amount of new incentives, cash prices or more days off, is going to fix the problem. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before your team is right back to their old habits — it’s human nature.

The “Iceberg Metaphor”: Uncovering the unspoken truths in your team

If you manage a team, or if you own your own business, you know how much time your business life takes up your time. You might be able to “park the problems” at the office, but sometimes they still run around in our mind, consciously or unconsciously.

Besides, problems like leading a team — who seems extremely negative all the time — don’t only affect your business… It can have a massive impact on your health, too. And the worst part is, we don’t always notice it ourselves.

The frustration alone when our team doesn’t perform at the level you know they’re able to can inevitably lead to a lot of stress.

One of my private clients actually had this problem.

During one of our sessions he told me:

“My team is expressing all this negativity and pessimism about the new direction of the company. And I can’t figure out why.”

Ugh, can’t you just feel the internal struggles going on his mind?

  • “Should I create a sales competition?”
  • “Should I do this?”
  • “Should I do that?”

Without a real strategy, your “world-class” tactics are nothing but a commodity

And at the end of the day, things like sales competitions, they’re nothing but tactics. And tactics become commoditized.

What works is having a strategy.

So here’s what I told him:

“Honestly, the solution is pretty simple.” He instantly became more curious.

I continued. “If your team is not performing, that’s not their fault. It’s your fault. If your customers aren’t buying, it’s not their fault they don’t understand how great your product is, it’s your fault.”

The best of the best in the world don’t become the best by accident. They always take massive ownership of everything which happens in their world. They know that the highest and best use of their time is to focus on the things they can control.

The goal here is not to blame yourself, blame is not a very productive emotion. Instead, you focus on what’s going on “below the surface.”

Think about the “Iceberg Metaphor”:

90% of the iceberg is below the surface. So, ask yourself “what’s really going on with my team, since they seem so negative? What are they not telling me? What is the unspoken truth?”

People tell you the truth once they feel safe, once they trust you, once they believe you actually care about them.

The power of asking amazing questions, at the right time

Here’s my recommendation to you:

Pull out a piece of paper, a Google doc or something you can you use to create your own “Questions Vault.” This will become your own, personal toolbox of great questions you can use in different situations. Don’t worry about the modality, just focus on getting some great questions down on paper.

I would recommend that you brainstorm AT LEAST 5 great questions, you can use in different scenarios. Some of my favorite questions I use with my clients are questions like:

  • “What’s the real challenge here?”
  • “What’s the #1 takeaway you got from this conversation?”
  • “If you could only focus on one thing right now, what would it be?”

The point is if you want new results in your business, but you don’t change your strategy. Sorry to say, nothing is going to change. But once you take massive ownership of everything which happens around you, it doesn’t take long before you see new results.

If you want more actionable strategies I’ve put together a FREE case study that will show you my “Hidden Leverage Blueprint” that will increase your company’s profitability by 6 or 7 figures this year.

Here’s what you’ll discover in the case study:

  • How to RETAIN your best A players and reduce your employee turnover significantly
  • Subtle leadership principles that will transform your team into a finely tuned, high performing, and well-oiled machine
  • The ONLY 4 leverage points that will take your business from “good” to “amazing”
  • And much, much more…

Click the link here and you’ll get free instant access to the case study.

A few of weeks back, I heard a great story about a psychology professor.

He gave all his students a piece of paper, with a black dot in the middle.

He said, “I want you to write about what you see here for the next hour.”

Once his students were finished writing, he took all the reports and read them out loud. Every single one of his students wrote about the same thing:

The black dot.

Then he asked then, “It’s funny how every one of you wrote about the black dot. I’m curious, why didn’t any of you write about the white part of the paper?”

Here’s what he meant:

In life, it’s easy to focus on our own little “black dots.” Things like health issues, our finances, complicated relationships. And, what happens if we only focus on those black dots?

We feel irritated, stressed, disappointed (not really productive emotions). We often do the same thing when something didn’t go as we’d planned or when we’re afraid to try new things.

We focus on what could go wrong — the black dot — instead of focusing on what could go right.

So today, you’ll discover the same strategy my private executive clients use to effortlessly overcome any kind of failure.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

It’s a simple strategy, but once you internalize it you’ll be able to implement it with your team and your relationship.

The little lies we tell ourselves

Imagine you’re watching a football game, and there are thousands of people are cheering for their favorite team.

Then one of the teams gets the first touchdown.

The crowd goes berserk and the announcer’s scream run through the speakers like a racehorse on steroids. Now imagine all this noise is happening inside your own head.

In psychology, this is your self-talk. It’s that little voice inside your head commenting on your life.

Here’s the thing…

The words we say are usually a lot different from the words we’re thinking. Especially when we’re afraid of something that might fail:

A new business idea, investor meetings, difficult conversations with our team.

We say things like:

  • “Honestly, it’s just not the right time right now. Maybe next month?”
  • “I would love to do XYZ, but I just don’t have time”
  • “I don’t have enough money”
  • “It’s a good idea, but I don’t think it will work in this market”

Are any of these true? The short (and boring) answer is… it depends.

Most of the time it’s just an underlying fear of failing. Disguised as excuses like time, money or experience.

For example:

GOING TO THE GYM

  • WHAT WE SAY: “I’d like to lose the last 5 lbs. But, I just don’t have time”
  • WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS: “I didn’t reach my goal the last time I did this. Why would I reach it now? I don’t want to feel like a failure”

STARTING A BUSINESS

  • WHAT WE SAY: “I’ve been thinking about starting my own business. But, I just don’t have enough money to get things started”
  • WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS: “I’m scared it won’t work out. I don’t want my family to say ‘See, I told you it wouldn’t work’”

The “invisible frames” that are controlling your life

Here’s what fear of failure really is:

It’s a belief of what might, or might not, happen. I call this “Invisible Frames.”

Think back to the story from before about the black dot. If you only focus on the black dot, you’re trapped inside your own Invisible Frame.

And, when you’re trapped inside an Invisible Frame one thing’s for sure:

You’ll never find a solution to solve your problem.

Instead, what if you could use your fear of failing, as the ultimate form of motivation? Motivation to take more chances, have that difficult conversation with your spouse or finally go to the gym.

Question is, how?

You only need to change your Invisible Frame. Luckily, you don’t need a lot of practice to change it. In fact, you’ll learn how in under 30 seconds.

Failing is not a failure. Failing is feedback

We all have something we keep putting off.

Let’s say you have something you’ve been putting off, maybe a week, a month… half a year. It doesn’t matter what it is, just come up with something.

Then, start off by using The 5 Why Technique.

If you don’t know The 5 Why Technique, it’s dead simple: You ask yourself “why XYZ” five times. That’s really all there is to it.

For example:

The problem: You should prepare your presentation for the next manager’s meeting. But somehow, you always end up in front of the T.V., binge-watching old episodes of The Wire.

  • Why? You’re too tired when you get home and should prepare a presentation for an upcoming meeting
  • Why are you so tired? Your head is spinning because of 10 different meetings during the day
  • Why is your calendar filled up with meetings? You feel it’s important that you attend those meetings
  • Why do you feel you need to attend those meetings? Because you can’t motivate yourself enough to prepare the presentation, so you keep putting it off
  • Why can’t you motivate yourself to do the presentation? You’re afraid everybody thinks the presentation isn’t good enough

True behavioral change happens when you understand the root of the problem. The 5 Why Technique is the perfect tool to find the problem… behind the problem.

Now you understand the problem. Next, you need to get your psychology straight. Let’s dive into how you easily overcome any fear of failing. It’s called The Failure Feedback Strategy.

The best part? It’s simple.

Let’s imagine you have to start a new business. You’re excited, you’re motivated, and then…

You feel your stomach turning. What if it doesn’t work? What if it fails? What if you’re going to look like a failure?

In that split-second when you feel the mental resistance, say this:

The Failure Feedback Strategy: “No matter what happens, it’s not a failure. It’s feedback.”

Essentially, when you feel you’ve failed, it’s only because of one thing:

Your result didn’t match your expectations.

Think back to the famous quote from Thomas Edison.

“ I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” — Thomas Edison
The truth is, failure is only your own interpretation of what happened to you. That’s why getting your psychology straight comes first, tactics come second.

Top performers have a very specific mindset:

They spend 90% of their time on the solution. Only 10% on the problem.

Conclusion

We all fail. The real question isn’t whether or not you’ll fail.

It’s only a matter of when!

At the end of the day you have two choices:

You can let fear of failing control you, or…

You can control your fear of failure, by changing the meaning from failure to feedback

All behavioral change in your life starts with brutal honesty. Remember: when you fear you might fail, that’s only your expectation of what might happen (or won’t happen).

So, to overcome any fear of failure, this is what you do:

(1) use The 5 Why Technique, and then (2) use The Failure Feedback Strategy: “It’s not a failure. It’s feedback.”